Thursday, November 13, 2008

Cleveland Metroparks: The Emerald Necklace

Tinker's Creek Gorge, Bedford Reservation

The Cleveland Metroparks public park system is a true jewel of the Cleveland Metropolitan area. It is a series of parks, hiking trails, biking trails, horse trails, nature preserves, scenic wonders, and public golf courses that circle the city of Cleveland. They are nicknamed “The Emerald Necklace” because collectively from above, they look like a necklace of green around the city. They also seem to follow many of the main rivers, creeks, and streams that flow through the area. As a result, these parks also can be great places to fish, bird watch, and see other wildlife. In the winter, they are sometimes filled with cross country skiers, sleds, and toboggans. Of course, they can be the perfect place to have a picnic. It also includes the ever popular Cleveland Zoo . And, if you’re so inclined, you can even do some geocaching . While most of the park areas are in Cuyahoga County, the North Chagrin Reservation is in adjacent Lake County, and the Hinckley Reservation is in Medina County. (Residents of Lake County also have the added benefit of the Lake Metroparks , which are easily accessible to Clevelanders and offer many, if not all of the same benefits.)

According to The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History:

The Park Dist. was the brainchild of Wm.A. Stinchcomb (1878-1959). Stinchcomb's efforts secured passage of state legislation permitting the establishment of park districts and the creation of the Cleveland Metropolitan Park Dist. as a separate subdivision of the State of Ohio. The district was created on 23 July 1917, and the first park property was acquired 2 years later. Stinchcomb was appointed director of the district in 1921 and served in that position until 1957. In its early years, the district concentrated its efforts on acquiring land before advancing values and private development placed it beyond reach. During the Depression, federal work projects contributed in a substantial way to the further development of the parks. The district's activities are directed by a Board of Park Commissioners consisting of 3 citizens appointed by the administrative judge of the Probate Court of Cuyahoga County. The district is financed by a tax levy on all real estate in the district and by miscellaneous receipts from district operations, such as golf-course greens fees. The district has acquired more than 18,500 acres of parkland since its inception. The policy of the Board of Park Commissioners has been to maintain the parklands in a natural state, limiting development to that consistent with conservation.

Clevelanders should be ever grateful to Mr. Stinchcomb, who seemed to have the vision to insure area residents would continue to enjoy some of the most beautiful green spaces in the state, if not in the region, for years to come.
Squire's Castle, North Chagrin Reservation
Currently, there are sixteen reservations in the Metroparks district (plus the Zoo), and they are as follows:

Big Creek
Bradley Woods
Euclid Creek
Garfield Park
Mill Stream Run
North Chagrin
Ohio & Erie Canal
Rocky River
South Chagrin
West Creek

There are also seven golf courses:

Big Met Golf Course, Rocky River Reservation, in Fairview Park
Little Met Golf Course, Rocky River Reservation, in Cleveland
Manakiki Golf Course, North Chagrin Reservation, in Willoughby Hills (Lake County)
Mastick Woods Golf Course, Rocky River Reservation, in Cleveland
Shawnee Hills Golf Course, Bedford Reservation, in Bedford
Sleepy Hollow Golf Course, Brecksville Reservation, in Brecksville
Washington Golf Learning Center, Washington Reservation, in Newburgh Heights

While we tend to think of our green spaces as places to visit only when they are green, the parks are open year round and can provide some beautiful sights in the fall and even in the winter months. One of the most anticipated events that occurs every March 15 in the Hinckley Reservation is the annual return of the buzzards. This is when the turkey vultures - also known as buzzards – return to Hinckley on the same day each year. It’s a little like the return of the swallows of Capistrano, with much, much bigger birds. (And thankfully, less of them than the swallows.)

Of course, there is also the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, which also can be visited year round. The Rain Forest is always toasty warm (and humid) . The last time I was there it took a week to de-frizz my hair.

The Cleveland Metroparks system is a natural wonder of the Cleveland area. If you live in the Cleveland area, make a point to visit them all. If you’re just coming for a visit to the area, try to stop by and see some of the sights or maybe just drive through. It may just bring you that moment of inner calm that you’re looking for.

Check out my blog home page for the latest Cleveland information, here.


Angry Man In The Basement said...

Great asset! Also, the Cuyahoga Valley National park.

Justin said...

Totally unrelated, but I figured since this blog was called All Things Cleveland you might be able to help...

I am looking for a picture of the Cleveland skyline from 1981. Obscure, I know.

If anyone knows where I can look (online preferably), please shoot me an email at